Back to basics

Almost every year after Thanksgiving there’s an annual outcry. We’ve supposedly forgotten the “reason for the season” – between the commercialization of Christmas steadily eclipsing its spiritual origins and the rising tides of multiculturalism and secularism (to some ears “happy holidays” apparently sounds ominous).

This year, the chief complaint has taken the form of a rather nonsensical theory that Starbucks deliberately opted for a minimalist (but still red-and-green) seasonal cup design out of some sort of anti-Christian animus.

Starbucks_Red_Cups_2015-1024x683
From here.

Although there’s much to celebrate in the US becoming a more religiously diverse society and capable of maybe politely letting winter festivities be a bit more inclusive, maybe, as we buy box after box for our friends, families, and relatives, any non-merchandized sense of what this holiday is about has gotten a bit… unclear. Looking back at the history of Christmas – which started as a gimmicky continuation pre-Christian winter celebrations justified as being for Jesus’ (probably inaccurate) birthday – it’s always been a bit hazy what tradition and what cause is being celebrated on one of the shortest and coldest days of the year.

Well, no more says I! There’s long been a tradition in my family to read a chapter of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” each Sunday after Thanksgiving. There’s a couple of complicated rules to make it all line up (for instance, this year, the last chapter will be read on Christmas Eve, since we’ll be out of Sundays), but that’s the basic gist of it.

It’s a simple and modern tradition, but it’s one that I will practice this year. Each Sunday (and on that holiday’s eve), I’ll have up a brief post with some thoughts on the chapter and what it says about the holiday and any relevant happenings in the world. They’ll be searchable under a new category: holidays.

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